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Looking at next year...minor and major league players

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This isn't really about anything we don't already know.  But I wanted to bring a couple of points to your attention and see if anyone wants to comment on them.

Farm System

The Austin American Statesman has a feature article on the talent level problems in the Astros' farm system.  As I said, nothing we don't already know, but it's not a bad piece and sometimes it is worth reading a baseball article from a newspaper other than the Chronicle.  An on-line version of the article is here.  I find it interesting that Astros farm system maven, Ricky Bennett, and Astros manager Cecil Cooper seem to have contradictory opinions.  Bennett says he tends to be conservative rather than moving minor leaguers through the system fast.  Cooper says he favors pushing minor leaguers through the system quickly, but adds that the system has to have some talent to push.

One of the fanposts featured an article by John Sickles on the state of the Astros' top 10 prospects, but it was of limited value since it was based on the 2007 top 10 list, several of whom have been traded.  Joe in Birmingham commented that he would like to see a top 10 listing of Astros prospects for 2008.  Interestingly the Statesman print version of the article, above, included a side bar with a top 10 listing for both 2007 and 2008.  Unfortunately, this side bar doesn't appear to be on the net. 

The Statesman compiled the 2008 listing, it said, based on discussions with Astros' management, coaches, and scouts.   I won't re-print everything stated on the listings, but here is the Statesman's top 10 list of Astros prospects:

1. Chris Johnson, 3b

2. Felipe Paulino, pitcher

3. Tommy Manzella, shortstop

4. Bud Norris, Pitcher

5. Brad James, Pitcher

6. Brian Bogusevic, outfielder

7. Sergio Perez, pitcher

8. Lou Santangelo, catcher

9. Jason Castro, catcher

10.Jordan Lyles, pitcher

(Others: Iorg OF; Sutton 2b; Maysonnet, SS)

The first three players are in AAA, even though Johnson and Manzella haven't been hitting well and Paulino has been injured.  The nos. 9 and 10 players are new to the system, since they were just drafted and signed this summer.

Major League Budget Puzzle

I know an article was written recently on this subject, and I apologize if this seems repetitive.  But this should be one of the biggest topics of discussion for Astros' fans as we go into the off-season.  We now know two more pieces to the Astros 2009 budget proposal with the new contracts for Erstad and Moehler.  So let's go back over some other pieces of the budget.

Let's start with the big dollar players:

Tejada  $13 million
Berkman  $14.5 million
Oswalt  $14 million
Lee  $18.5 million
sub total    $60 million

Blum, Erstad, and Moehler = $5.95 million

(note that this doesn't include incentives which could add a few miliion

more to the three above.)

Second year of contracts:

Matsui  $5 million and Brocail $2.5 million

That's $74.5 million for 9 players so far.

The Astros also have some arbitration eligible players who are likely to have a nice pay increase and become significant contracts:

Valverde (current: 4.7 million...I could see it go to $6 million)
Wigginton (current: $4.35 million...another possible $6 million or higher)
Geary (current 1.25 million, could go to maybe $2.5 million)

If I'm in the ballpark, so to speak, with the above arb eligible players, that amounts to $88 million for 12 players.  If the remaining 13 players on the roster only cost 1/2 million apiece, that would put the budget at $95 million...and of course we know some of the remaining players will earn more than that, substantially more in some cases.  And I'm not even talking yet about the cost of upgrading the current rotation.

Here are some of the current Astros who will be free agents:

Humberto Quintero
Mark Loretta
David Newhan
Jose Castillo
Reggie Abercrombie

Randy Wolf
LaTroy Hawkins
Tim Byrdak
Runelvys Hernandez
Dave Borkowski

Here are some more arbitration eligible players, and I hesitate to guess what they will earn, but it might be $2 million or so, combined:

Brandon Backe
Wandy Rodriguez

The Astros also have these players under team control, and they are the most likely to fit the $0.5 million range:

Bourn, Pence, Towles, Sampson, Wright, Paulino, Nieve.

If you want to see the current salaries of the players above, you can look here:

Cot's baseball contracts

I don't know about you, but it seems to me that the Astros may have some significant changes among the existing players if they are intent on finding a way to expand the budget and sign one or more free agent starting pitchers.

Give me your thought on what you think Wade will do?  What do you think the Astros budget will be just to maintain the status quo? What will  be the budget if Wade is successful in improving the rotation?  What should Wade do?